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<p>Discovery of [Fe]-hydrogenase in bacteria opens new possibilities for conversion of hydrogen</p>

Hydrogen gas is a green energy carrier. Microorganisms use dedicated enzymes, called hydrogenases to convert this gas into energy. One of the model enzymes is [Fe]-hydrogenase (Hmd) that catalyzes the reversible hydride transfer between H2 and the methanogenic C1-carrier tetrahydromethanopterin using a unique prosthetic group, the FeGP cofactor. Up to now, Hmd, its paralogue (HmdII), and the FeGP cofactor were identified only in archaea. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg and collaborators at the Max Plank Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt and Freie Universität Berlin now discovered that bacteria are also able to produce HmdII and the FeGP cofactor, and showed that bacterial HmdII uses the bacterial C1-carrier, tetrahydrofolate. This finding has a great potential for biotechnological development of Hmd variants that function in bacteria. more

A new way out!

A new way out!

April 01, 2019

Protein secretion is used by all cells to deliver proteins to different cellular compartments. In bacteria, proteins secreted to the extracellular milieu play key roles in a multitude of important processes including virulence, biofilm formation, adhesion, interactions between bacteria in microbiomes, host-microbe interactions, adaptation and motility. In a recent publication in Nature Communications, scientists from The Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology together with scientists from the University of Montpellier describe a novel system for protein secretion by bacteria.  more

2019 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize goes to Knut Drescher

Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology receives Germany's most significant award for young scientists, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, which is jointly awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF). more

Plant fights back: a kiwellin disarms the metabolic activity of a fungal effector

Plants are under constant attack by pathogens. To protect themselves, plants produce an array of defense proteins. Kiwellins are a family of secreted plant proteins that are common in many plant species. However, their biological functions remain largely unknown. An exception is Kwl1 from kiwi fruit, which acts as a human allergen. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology and collaborators at the LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology (Synmikro) in Marburg and the Faculty of Biology of the Philipps-Universität Marburg have described a biological function to a plant kiwellin for the first time. They detected a maize kiwellin that specifically inhibits the chorismate mutase activity of the U. maydis effector Cmu1. This finding highlights that kiwellins contribute to plant defense against a fungal pathogen. more

Corn smut has undergone a specialized evolution for virulence

Smut fungi are pathogens that parasitize mainly grass plants including economically important cereals like maize. Most smut pathogens cause disease symptoms only in the flowers of their host plants. An exception is Ustilago maydis, a fungus inducing tumor formation and anthocyanin accumulation in all above ground organs of maize (Figure 1). Anthocyanin formation allows the fungus to spread efficiently in the infected tissue. It is unclear how U. maydis has acquired such a unique pathogenic lifestyle. more

Protection of [Fe]-hydrogenase

Protection of [Fe]-hydrogenase

November 26, 2018

Hydrogenase enzymes catalyze production and utilization of hydrogen gas, which is considered as a future energy carrier. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg and a collaborator at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics discovered that [Fe]-hydrogenase is protected by conformational change of the protein. This finding is crucial for future application of hydrogenases and for understanding the catalytic mechanism of this enzyme. more

Type IV effector complexes: components of the last elusive CRISPR-Cas type

Bacteria utilize CRISPR-Cas systems to defend themselves against viral attacks. Six major CRISPR-Cas Types have been classified based on the presence of signature proteins.  Five of these six types are characterized well. Scientists of the Max Planck Society have now uncovered the components of the elusive type IV system, which include a novel CRISPR-RNA nuclease. The funcional roles of these discovered Type IV effector complexes are suggested to be found outside of viral defense. more

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